Iowa Hawkeyes First Quarter Analysis: A Different Ricky Stanzi

20 09 2010

Ricky Stanzi, Iowa Hawkeyes“Be careful what you wish for.”

How many times have you heard that?

“Be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it.” That’s been the warning for as long as I can remember.

Since January 6, the number one key to the Iowa Hawkeyes’ success has unanimously been that Ricky Stanzi must decrease the interceptions, especially the “pick-6s”. That has come from fans, media, coaches and even Ricky himself.

Preseason magazines, college preview shows, every article written on the promise of the 2010 Hawkeyes building on their success of 2009, and water cooler conversations among fans have all shared the same view; “the Hawkeyes cannot continue to win if Stanzi keeps throwing interceptions.”

So in the offseason, Ricky has had that mantra running through his head mixed in with all of the patriotic songs and verses, play calls and defensive reads he needs to work on to take that next step in his senior season as the Iowa quarterback.

Some pundits mentioned Ricky in the preseason Heisman talk, “as long as he cuts down the interceptions.” He was placed on the Davey O’Brien preseason watch list, “but he needs to reduce the number of interceptions.”

So Kirk Ferentz and Ken O’Keefe spent the offseason drilling into Ricky’s head, “don’t take the big risks, check down, hold on to the ball, run with it if you have to, throw it away, don’t gamble deep.” And it showed on opening day against Eastern Illinois.

Ricky looked afraid to throw the ball more than 10 yards down field. But when he tried, it worked (all three times). He looked anxious to hit the check-down receiver or the running back out of the backfield. He passed on wide open receivers (Marvin McNutt and Derrell Johnson-Koulianos) at least six times in the first two games, opting for either the tight end or running back instead. He definitely did not look like the Ricky Stanzi with the Captain America swagger he carried in the Orange Bowl, or in the fourth quarters against Indiana and Michigan State, or even late against Penn State in 2008.

Ricky Stanzi is now just Steve Rogers.

I wish the stats would show what is clearly evident by watching Stanzi version 2010, compared to Stanzi version 2009, but they don’t. They actually support the efforts of Ferentz and O’Keefe, except one major stat, and prove you can’t measure swagger with numbers.

After the first three games in 2009, Ricky was a clean 60 of 100 (60%) passing attempts for 644 yards with five touchdowns and three interceptions. He was sacked only eight times behind a veteran offensive line against teams like Northern Iowa, Iowa State and Arizona, and had 12 official rushing attempts.

In comparison, after the first three games in 2010, Ricky is 47 of 74 (63.5%) for 711 yards with six touchdowns and only one interception. All marked improvements from a year ago. He has been sacked nine times with 21 official rushing attempts. All of these numbers can easily be attributed to the new philosophy designed to reduce turnovers and interceptions.

But the most glaring statistic of them all is not the reduced interceptions or increased rushing attempts and sacks, it’s the record.

After the first quarter of the 2009 season, Iowa was 3-0, on their way to a school-record 9-0 start, ending with a BCS victory in the Orange Bowl. In 2010, the Hawkeyes are 2-1 (ranked 18 in both polls) with more questions than answers and seemingly lacking an identity to claim for the 2010 season.

This could easily be just like 2002, when Brad Banks led the Hawkeyes to an undefeated Big 10 conference run and an 11-1 regular season record. But in order for that to happen, the swagger of the Iowa Hawkeyes must return, and that begins with their leader, Captain America, Ricky Stanzi.

There is definitely a different feeling with this year’s Hawkeyes. But the teams have switched sides of the field and the Hawkeyes come out in the second quarter starting with Ball State, Saturday (Sept. 25), and then Big 10 conference play with Penn State and then to the Big House against whatever Michigan team decides to show up. The Parade to the Roses starts now.





Big Ten Expansion (part 3): The Contenders

12 04 2010

After discussing some of the  outside contenders for the 12th spot in the Big Ten, lots of noise has been made to cut to the chase and get to the real teams (already). This installment will cover the teams with good chances, but not the front-runners. The top two teams for expansion will follow soon.

Some bloggers and so-called experts have been casting doubt on the “East Coast Media Theory” for Big 10 expansion. The problem is, it is too logical not to apply. The conference wants to send a serious statement to the college football community that it is THE top conference in football by adding a conference championship game as well as gain exposure in the ESPN (Eastern Sports Publicity Network) dominated media market on the East Coast.

Two major teams accomplish this feat; the Syracuse Orange and Rutgers Scarlet Knights.

Syracuse has an established football program that has had very strong times, and very weak times – a perfect fit for the Big 10. Other than Ohio State, the Big 10 standings can be highly volatile on a yearly basis. And the basketball team has also had established success. Plus Syracuse is about as close to New York itself as the Big 10 can get.

About the only university closer is Rutgers, another likely option. The Scarlet Knights have had a solid football program over the last decade joined with an increase in credibility as a quality opponent. Joining the Big 10 offers Rutgers a larger stage than the Big East and gives the Big 10 a 12th team that will not be a threat to upset the apple cart immediately in the conference.

Again, major prospects like Texas,  Nebraska and Notre Dame would not consider a move t the Big 10 because they want to be conference championship contenders from the start. The truth is, the conference would not want a drastic shake-up immediately – the individual athletic directors within the conference would not allow it. The team needs to ease itself into conference contention.

Two other very unlikely names to also consider at this point would be the University of Connecticut and the Naval Academy. With recent success for both programs, their presence on the East Coast at least puts them on the Big 10 radar.

Coming up next: The Semi-finalist. Who will take second place in the chase for the 12th spot in the Big 10?

Mr Pressbox Out!!

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Greatest QBs of All-Time: The Oh-Crap Factor

11 02 2010

Much has been made the last two weeks since Peyton Manning out-played Drew Brees, but lost the Super Bowl – in large part to his Pick-6 late in game – about Manning’s legacy and where he stands in the all-time pantheon of NFL quarterbacks.

This is an easy one: he is one of the greatest of ALL-TIME! Period. Why? Because he is one of the elite QBs to pass the “Oh Crap Test”. The name has been changed to a more “PG”-friendly title.

The “Oh Crap Test” refers to a quarterback’s “IT” factor, if you are following me at home. Stats are not involved. Rings are not involved. It is the measure of player and fan intimidation. The more often the phrase “Oh Crap! Do we really have to face _____?” the higher the QB rating. And yes, it appears modern QBs fare better than the older generations due to the hype-factor and pub-factor involved in today’s game.

I am only listing the top 5:

1. JOE MONTANA – Nothing struck more fear into opposing players and fans than seeing #16 standing behind center in a scarlet red jersey and a gold helmet for San Francisco during the 1980s. He was scary during the regular season, but once the post-season hit, he was a nightmare for the opposition. The obvious No. 1.

2. PEYTON MANNING – Scrap the .500 post-season record (I apologize I used a statistic). No one (fan or player) ever wakes up on Sunday morning and says “I’m so glad we’re playing Peyton Manning today.” The next time someone says that will be the first time in Peyton’s adult life. Peyton can put Betty White, Gary Coleman, Peter Griffin and a fat Elvis impersonator at the wide receiver and tight end positions and still throw for 300 yards and 3 TDs. History may very well put Peyton at the top of this list.

3. BRETT FAVRE – The Ol’ Gunslinger comes in third after another dazzling season. Favre still has it. Last minute wins. 4th quarter comebacks. 50-yard touchdown passes while spinning and falling backwards with his helmet turned sideways. Fastballs that make Randy Johnson look like a slow-pitch softball players. The only things keeping him from the top spot are that stupid jump-hook and his propensity to airmail it express to an eagerly waiting defender.

4. JOHN ELWAY – Elway may have looked like he belonged on a Garbage Pails Kids card, but was a surgeon on the field. No team wanted him on the field with 2 minutes left with the game on the line. He was the master of the comeback and, like Manning, could ruin other teams’ days or seasons surrounded by a group of tier-2 receivers and running backs. Imagine what he could have done with Jerry Rice at wide receiver, or Dallas Clark at tight end.

5. DAN MARINO – Mr. Isotoner may have been a statue in the pocket, but he was a bombardier. He had a precision missile launching system more feared than the Patriot Missile. He never had a running game to adequately take the pressure off, which made it even more amazing he was so dangerous in the pocket. Defenders knew he was going to pass 50 times per game and they still couldn’t stop him. The man set records that only Manning may reach.

Honorable mentions (in no specific order): Sammy Baugh, Steve Young, Bart Starr, Johnny Unitas, Troy Aikman

Current players who may make the list in the future:Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Phillip Rivers.

Mr. Pressbox Out!!

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Greatest QBs of All-Time: The Oh-Crap Factor

11 02 2010

Much has been made the last two weeks since Peyton Manning out-played Drew Brees, but lost the Super Bowl – in large part to his Pick-6 late in game – about Manning’s legacy and where he stands in the all-time pantheon of NFL quarterbacks.

This is an easy one: he is one of the greatest of ALL-TIME! Period. Why? Because he is one of the elite QBs to pass the “Oh Crap Test”. The name has been changed to a more “PG”-friendly title.

The “Oh Crap Test” refers to a quarterback’s “IT” factor, if you are following me at home. Stats are not involved. Rings are not involved. It is the measure of player and fan intimidation. The more often the phrase “Oh Crap! Do we really have to face _____?” the higher the QB rating. And yes, it appears modern QBs fare better than the older generations due to the hype-factor and pub-factor involved in today’s game.

I am only listing the top 5:

1. JOE MONTANA – Nothing struck more fear into opposing players and fans than seeing #16 standing behind center in a scarlet red jersey and a gold helmet for San Francisco during the 1980s. He was scary during the regular season, but once the post-season hit, he was a nightmare for the opposition. The obvious No. 1.

2. PEYTON MANNING – Scrap the .500 post-season record (I apologize I used a statistic). No one (fan or player) ever wakes up on Sunday morning and says “I’m so glad we’re playing Peyton Manning today.” The next time someone says that will be the first time in Peyton’s adult life. Peyton can put Betty White, Gary Coleman, Peter Griffin and a fat Elvis impersonator at the wide receiver and tight end positions and still throw for 300 yards and 3 TDs. History may very well put Peyton at the top of this list.

3. BRETT FAVRE – The Ol’ Gunslinger comes in third after another dazzling season. Favre still has it. Last minute wins. 4th quarter comebacks. 50-yard touchdown passes while spinning and falling backwards with his helmet turned sideways. Fastballs that make Randy Johnson look like a slow-pitch softball players. The only things keeping him from the top spot are that stupid jump-hook and his propensity to airmail it express to an eagerly waiting defender.

4. JOHN ELWAY – Elway may have looked like he belonged on a Garbage Pails Kids card, but was a surgeon on the field. No team wanted him on the field with 2 minutes left with the game on the line. He was the master of the comeback and, like Manning, could ruin other teams’ days or seasons surrounded by a group of tier-2 receivers and running backs. Imagine what he could have done with Jerry Rice at wide receiver, or Dallas Clark at tight end.

5. DAN MARINO – Mr. Isotoner may have been a statue in the pocket, but he was a bombardier. He had a precision missile launching system more feared than the Patriot Missile. He never had a running game to adequately take the pressure off, which made it even more amazing he was so dangerous in the pocket. Defenders knew he was going to pass 50 times per game and they still couldn’t stop him. The man set records that only Manning may reach.

Honorable mentions (in no specific order): Sammy Baugh, Steve Young, Bart Starr, Johnny Unitas, Troy Aikman

Current players who may make the list in the future:Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Phillip Rivers.

Mr. Pressbox Out!!

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Posted via web from Mr. Pressbox Confessions via Posterous





Not even the players care about NFL All-Pro game

23 01 2010

The Major League Baseball All-Star game, featuring the Home Derby, is the pinnacle of All-Star games.

Even the National Basketball Association All-Star game, with the Slam Dunk contest, is a major part of the NBA season.

But no one really cares about the National Football League All-Pro game. Not even the players.

The NFL attempted to generate more interest – for both fans and players – by moving the All-Pro game back to the states from Hawaii, as well as moving it to the week prior to the Super Bowl instead of the week after. It hasn’t worked.

Every year it seems more and more NFL players bail on the All-Pro game due to “injuries.” Not to question anyone’s integrity (ok maybe a little bit – yes, I’m talking to you Tom Brady, Phillip Rivers and Larry Fitzgerald) but you almost never see a baseball or basketball player backing out of the all-star game for injury reasons – unless they are truly injured. With the exception of Wes Welker, most of the guys who have backed out would still be starting and playing this weekend and in the Super Bowl, if their teams were still playing.

The list of “All-Pros” get so much bigger every year, it really starts to diminish the meaning of the term. It’s a joke. By the time the game is played, half the league has had their names on the list at one point or another.  If the title “All-Pro” only applied to the guys voted in, that would be one thing, but any guy who puts on the jersey next weekend will be knighted as an “All-Pro” whether they truly deserved it or not.

Hell, Matt Cassell and Jamarcus Russell are sitting on the edge of their couches waiting for a few other guys to back out so they get their call to the All-Pro game.

Then, they can order some new business cards from VistaPrint that say “NFL All-Pro” on them.

And if the NFL allows itself to make a mockery of its all-star process, then how can they expect any of the fans to care about the game?

Just save us all the trouble and misery of watching a sub-par All-Pro game and just select and All-Pro team at the end of the season and just cancel the game. No one will really care. Trust me.

Mr Pressbox Out!!

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Iowa Hawkeyes All-Decade team (2000-2009)

8 01 2010

The 2009 Iowa Hawkeyes capped one of the best seasons in the school’s history with a victory over Georgia Tech, 24-10, Jan. 5, 2010. The victory ensured Iowa its fourth season-ending top 10 ranking of the decade (2002, 2003, 2004) and possibly its first top 5 finish since 1960 (finished #2). And four top 10 finishes easily qualifies as the best decade the team has had since it finished with four top 10 finishes in the 1950s (’53, ’56, ’57 and ’58).

In celebration of Iowa’s success beginning the new millenium, here is the Iowa Hawkeye All-Decade team (2000-2009) – as determined by me.

POS: STARTERS in all-caps (and reserves)
QB: BRAD BANKS (Drew Tate, Ricky Stanzi)
RB: SHONN GREENE (Albert Young, Ladell Betts, Fred Russell)
FB: EDGAR CERVANTES
TE: DALLAS CLARK (Scott Chandler)
OL: ROBERT GALLERY, MARSHALL YANDA, BRUCE NELSON, SETH OLSEN, ERIC STEINBACH (Brian Bulaga, Brian Ferentz)
WR: KEVIN KASPER, ED HINKLE, CLINTON SOLOMON (Maurice Brown, Trey
Stross, Kahlil Hill)

DL: AARON KAMPMAN, JONATHAN BABINEAUX, HOWARD HODGES, MATT ROTH (Adrian
Clayborn, Kenny Iwebema, Mitch King, Matt Kroul)
LB: ABDUL HODGE, CHAD GREENWAY, FRED BARR (Mike Klinkenborg, Levar
Woods, Mike Humpal)
CB: ANTAWN ALLEN, JAVON JOHNSON (Bradley Fletcher, Charles Godfrey,
Amari Spivey)
S: BOB SANDERS, SEAN CONSIDINE (Marcus Paschal, Tyler Sash)

P: RYAN DONAHUE
K: NATE KAEDING (Kyle Schlicher)

This is not official, and strictly my opinion. Please feel free to contribute your nominations and comments.

— Mr Pressbox Out!!

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Mr Meyer’s Wild Ride

28 12 2009

Just something to think about before we head into the BCS bowl schedule … are we being told the truth about Urban Meyer?

After too many shady backroom coaching deals over the past few years, a few red flags were raised following the abrupt resignation of Florida’s Urban Meyer Saturday, and then following the equally abrupt backpedaling we saw the next day.

The explanation we got was that it was due to a medical condition. But now he may be on the sideline (less than 24 hours after deciding to walk away)? Not so fast, Mr. Meyer.

It is very likely this was a backroom deal — leading to Meyer taking another coaching job after taking a year off — gone wrong.

I may not have been the only one with an eyebrow left raised following the shocking news, and after a little investigating, the Florida AD may have caught wind of the deal.

How better to get out of your deal, still get paid, and then “mysteriously” have a Tier 1 coaching job (whether NFL or other college program) waiting gift-wrapped on his doorstep.

I pray for Urban’s continued good health, but I also hope he hasn’t been trying to pull a fast-one over on us at the peak of the giving season.

Mr Pressbox – Out!
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